Author's Note: I never expected to write a Harry Potter story, but, while not a Malfoy fan, I grew interested in the pathology and trauma of the Malfoy family. This story developed itself as I contemplated what it would take to turn Draco Malfoy into a normal, functioning member of [wizarding] society.

Chapter titles are from a poem by Emily Brontë called "Love and Friendship," from the Christmas carol "The Holly And The Ivy," and from the poem "The Hawthorne Tree" by Siegfried Sassoon.


Three Months Later, or

Friendship Like the Holly-Tree

Chapter 1

When Narcissa Malfoy showed up at Dita Bonhomme's door, Dita was not surprised. She had been waiting for this visit for a long time. Once she had been afraid of it. Narcissa Malfoy could kill her in an instant and leave no trace. But now there was nothing to fear, everything to pity. And perhaps there had been everything to pity from the beginning.

Narcissa was not the same woman who might have shown up on Dita's doorstep a few years ago. Though she tried to bear herself with the same hauteur, it was clear she was a broken and desperate woman. "Miss Perdita Bonhomme?" she inquired.

"You have the right house, Lady Malfoy," Dita answered calmly.

Narcissa's eyebrows went up. "You know me?"

"Of course I do. Please come in."

The tall woman, towering over the other, looked slightly dazed as she entered the small, quirky house. But then, she had already looked a little dazed before. She sat, automatically elegant, on the chair Dita offered her and put out her hands for the teacup the dark-haired woman gave her. She was still enough herself to be faintly approving when the milk went in after the tea rather than before.

"How long have you known your son was missing?"

Narcissa's lips parted in an involuntary, "What?" She took a deep breath. "How—how did you know that?"

"It's simple. Your hat is on backward."

Narcissa stared at her uncomprehendingly.

"You're desperately trying to pull yourself together, dealing with your new status, trying to still be who you are while being different. But this morning you put your hat on backward. You are desperately worried, but at the same time you're not confident in calling it an emergency. And you, of all people, have not just come to me for a social call. If you were going to rub my face in anything, you would have done it six months or six years ago, and you're not the sort of person to come to me now unless you had no other options. I find lost people. You're missing someone, and it's not Lucius, because you would never come to me about it. But your son? You would do anything for him. If the reports are true, you have done anything for him. After what you've been through, coming to me is nothing. You've lost everything, except what really matters, but now you're afraid you're losing him, too."

The teacup clattered in its saucer, and Narcissa covered her face with shaking hands. "It's true," she said, trying not to sob. "Draco is gone. Of his own free will, I believe, but at the same time I feel that there is danger, and no—no one will help me!"

"No one believes you."

"They say, of course Draco left—after the way we let him down—what we allowed to happen to him—his whole world was destroyed—he had to go find himself… It's true, all of it, but what they are really saying is that we are the last people the Ministry of Magic will help—we Malfoys."

"I believe you. Tell me everything that happened to you and to Draco after the Dark Lord was defeated."

Narcissa stared at her again. "How do you know about any of this? You're—you're a Muggle!"

Dita raised an amused eyebrow at her. "You forget what I do for a living. I find people even the CID can't find. You pure-bloods believe you're so much more intelligent and educated than the Muggle world, but you're not as much smarter as you think you are. In addition, I have known Lucius. It is impossible to know him without learning more about his world."

Her guest's lips tightened at the mention of her husband.

"I'm sorry," Dita said, "but I'm only telling you the truth. I'm not proud of having known your husband, but it is the truth about how I know your world, and it's what will enable me to help you. Now, tell me, Lady Malfoy."

Narcissa took another deep breath and began to tell her. About the three Malfoys returning, dazed, to their home, which had been left to them along with little else. About Lucius' depressions and rages. About Draco wandering around in a daze, avoiding everyone, lashing out whenever she tried to reach out to him. About the last several months of them trying, laughably, to be a normal wizarding family, avoided by everyone, impressing no one, particularly not themselves. About a final raging argument with Draco and his disappearance the following day with only a note saying he was going to where no one knew who he was.

"I thought it would be good for him to get away from England and from all this, but all this time I have had such a sense of foreboding, and no one will believe me, not even Lucius."

"I believe you," Dita repeated. "Sometimes mothers know things. It's odd, isn't it? I should know, if…"

"If your daughter were in danger," Narcissa finished for her.

Dita looked down at her hands. "Yes. I didn't mean to bring her up. I'm sorry. I will do what I can for you, Lady Malfoy."

"Why?" Narcissa demanded, something like her old sneer returning to her face. "Guilt?"

"No," Dita said. "I dealt with my guilt long ago. I've never felt I owed you anything. I did wrong—I even wronged you, I know I did. But you more than paid me and every other Muggle out for it."

Her face white, Narcissa bit her red lips, struggling with herself. Her motherhood won out. "I don't care about that anymore. Right now I only care about Draco. If you'll help me, I'll do whatever I can—for you—for your daughter."

"My daughter?" Dita repeated. "What could you possibly do for my daughter?"

"Had you…any idea of sending her to Hogwarts? Unless she's a…"

"Squib? She's not. But she's fifteen years old. A little old, don't you think?"

"Everything's different now. Many people are dead. They may be taking anyone. If she is not a squib, why didn't you send her to Hogwarts four years ago?"

Now it was Dita's turn to compress her lips. "She had an invitation, but I didn't want her to be in that environment, not with the baggage of who she is."

"Half-Muggle? There are all kinds of that sort at Hogwarts."

"Half-Wizard. Half—"

"You don't need to finish," Narcissa said coldly. "I know what you mean."

"Ensuing events have proven me correct," Dita said. "Hardly anyone knows she exists. She has not had to grow up with the weight of being who she is. She is a happy—if strange—child. She should be home from her private lessons at any moment, so if you wish to return tomorrow—"

"No—Please—"

Dita stared at Narcissa. "You want to meet her?"

"Please."

As they stared at each other, they heard the sound of the back door opening. "Mum? I'm home!"

Narcissa rose, her face a little pinched.

"I'm in here," Dita called back.

Her daughter came into the living room, swinging a bookbag down from her shoulder. She stopped short at the sight of a guest, especially such a strange-looking guest. Narcissa barely withheld a gasp.

Mother and daughter bore very little resemblance to each other. The girl was slender and slightly taller than the mother; while the mother had short, curly dark hair, the girl's was long, straight, and white-blond, springing back from a sharp widow's peak on her forehead. Her skin was a familiar, elegant pale, and her chin was sharp, her cheekbones high. Only her eyes were like her mother's, sapphire blue, keen and perpetually amused. Other than her eyes and the amusement, she could have been a twin to— Narcissa tried not to gasp again.

"Narcissa Malfoy, this is my daughter, Lucia Bonnefoy."